Recently I wrote about idleness and gave an exhortation to awake; now I want to continue to examine idleness in the perspective of the flesh versus the Spirit.
Remember that idleness is a state of being in which you are being inactive or aimless; this does not mean that a man who finds himself unemployed is necessarily idle nor that a man who engages himself in playing video games or sports is not idle. There seems to be a very worldly perspective of idleness in the Church that needs to be corrected. We seem to think that being idle pertains only to whether or not you are “active”, “doing something”, and “employed”: If you have a job, a hobby, or exercise a lot then you are not idle, but these ideas stem from a very worldly mindset and are only true if your aim is on worldly things. So I want to challenge that view today because it seems to be that we are justifying our conduct as productive and not idle because we’ve set our aim on worldly things so that physically we may not be idle, but Spiritually, we are drinking deeply the poison of idleness.
Worldly Aim vs. Spiritual Aim
7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. ~Galatians 6:7-8
16 I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. ~Galatians 5:16
2 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. ~Colossians 3:2
Galatians 6:7-8 is perhaps one of the most profound passages in all of scripture and I would love to spend more time examining this passage in greater depth, but for now we have some very specific things we want to look at from it. And it is important to note that this is a matter of mockery- men mock God in regards to this matter- God has so established His order in nature so that whatever you sow, you will reap. If you sow to your flesh- you build, develop, train, and grow in your flesh- then from your flesh you will reap corruption. Why? Because the flesh grows more and more corrupt (Eph 4:22) and it only produces corruption as witnessed in God’s creation by the testimony of “aging”. But, if you sow to the Spirit- you build yourself up in your most holy faith, you train yourself unto righteousness, and grow in godliness- then from the Spirit you will reap everlasting life.
How we view “idleness” is very demonstrative of what our aim is; to many people, sitting in quietness waiting upon the Lord would be idle, yet it is hard to imagine many more productive endeavors in the Kingdom of God than sitting quietly before the Lord, waiting upon Him.
The Lord has made it a spiritual issue that a man provide for His family and work quietly with his hands, being content with what he has (1 Tim. 5:8, 1 Thess. 4:11), so that working quietly with contentedness is spiritually edifying in the Kingdom; however, many people today are not sowing to the Spirit in the jobs they have to provide for their families, but rather, are seeking idols of success, wealth, and prestige. It does matter how you sow; to the one, you reap only the things of this world (money), to the other, you reap the things of the Kingdom of God (provision for your family, the fruits of the Spirit, and the harvest of the Kingdom- perhaps even the pure joy of suffering for the name of Christ).
Brethren, both Sisters and Brothers, we marvel that things like addiction run rampant among us but do not consider that we reap of things like addiction because we sow to the flesh! If we sowed to the Spirit, then we would reap of the fruits of the Spirit self-control and put an end to the addictions that run over us.
I want to encourage you all with all the love of Christ to meditate deeply on the above passages; consider how you sow and examine the fruits of your life in light of the endeavors that you sow in your life.
If from the moment we awake we sow to the flesh, we will from the flesh reap what we sow; if we say that we are not idle because we sow to the things of this flesh (like our jobs), then are we idle in the Kingdom of God? If it is idleness to you to sit quietly before God, to mediate on His word, or to pray, then how will you sow to the Spirit?
Brethren, it seems to me that we struggle so much with the things of the Spirit because we sow that much to the flesh!
We find it difficult to believe that we can be holy before the Lord because we continue to reap corruption from the flesh that we sow to. We do not witness holiness in our lives because we do not sow to the Spirit. We often continue to succumb to our addictions because from the time we wake up in the morning, to the time we go to sleep at night, we sow to our flesh; we gratify our lusts, we eat, we exercise our physical bodies, we advance our careers, we entertain our fleshly delights all the while having neglected the desires of the Spirit, having neglected our spiritual food, our spiritual exercise unto godliness, and having never advanced the Kingdom of God. We do not entertain our spiritual delight with Christ!
Overcoming idleness is not about busying yourself with the affairs of the world; it is about “setting your mind on the things above, not on the things of this world” (Col 3:2). It is about “sowing to the Spirit and not to the flesh” (Eph 5:16).
I think it is an appropriate time to stop and examine our perspective on idleness; do we consider ourselves idle when we are sowing to the flesh? Because truly, there is no greater idleness in the Kingdom of God than to be busy with all the things of this world that may be permissible, but are in no way expedient.